On April 11th, 2013, Representative Angela Williams’ led the hearing of House Bill 13-1249, the Colorado Mortgage Accountability and Housing Stabilization Act. She chaired the Business, Labor, Economic and Workforce Development committee in weighing the pros and cons of the bill’s passage. Nine of the committee members voted to kill the bill, following Williams’ lead. A month earlier, in her own town hall, she had supported the bill and shared with her constituents why it was needed. Audio from the town hall was recorded and is available here.
Almost immediately after that town hall, Williams began refusing to meet with supporters of the bill and called those who attended her public events to try and speak with her bullies. She listened to the Colorado Bankers Association, but would not hear from those who supported this vital legislation. She began, and has continued, to insist that she would only speak with members of District 7, despite the fact that the legislation would vitally impact all Coloradans. Her own district has been the hardest hit by the Great Recession, with 56% of homes in her district foreclosed on in the last ten years. A flyover of her district using Google Earth and Colorado GIS data that shows where each foreclosure took place provides a stunning realization of just what this means to her community.
At Williams’ first town hall following her leading the killing of the bill, she was challenged by those whom she had avoided contact or communication with in the run up to the hearing of April 11th. Her rhetoric changed drastically (see video) from the previous town hall, this time blaming homeowners not making their payments and breaking their contracts as the reason the Rule 120 hearing is held. When her own constituents challenged her on these assertions, she had some of them thrown out by the police rather than address their differing viewpoints (see photos). Williams’ arguments do not reflect the reality that a 56% foreclosure rate goes way beyond homeowners missing payments. Her arguments ignore that, in Colorado, our non-judicial Rule 120 hearings do not allow homeowners any chance to challenge assertions by banks or mortgage servicers, even if they have proof that they have been making payments or were asked by the banks or servicers themselves to stop making payments.
The Montbello area in Denver continues to suffer the fallout of foreclosures, including decreased home values, a more transient population of renters, and decreasing property tax revenue. It provides a concentrated picture of what is happening across the state, as banks continue to foreclose on homeowners without proof they own the mortgages they are foreclosing on. The list of problems with our current legal system around foreclosures is a lengthy one, and HB13-1249 would have been a big step towards leveling the playing field so that homeowners could hope for justice in the justice system. Angela Williams, however, closed the door on Coloradans and opened it to the bank lobby, a sure sign of whom she actually represents.